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Learning vibrato: Do you get tired?
Some questions about muscle fatigue when starting vibrato
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dpappas
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September 27, 2017 - 11:09 am
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Hi everyone,

I am learning vibrato.  My teacher has limited experience teaching it, and I've been looking at a lot of videos and trying things out.  I had developed a porto-vibrato that required that I hook my thumb under the neck and was tense (I felt it in the ball of my thumb).  I know vibrato is personal, but looking at youtube of people doing vibrato, I realized no one does it that way and my hand was telling me to stop doing it that way.

 

So now I am doing the slow exercises, visualizing the sound before I do it, etc.  The FM videos are helpful, as well as a handful of others.  I can get a decent vibrato on the third finger for a few seconds at a time.  

 

My question is this, when starting out, did your vibrato muscles get tired quickly?  I mean, it's using muscles in a way they are not accustomed to, and it's a lot of movement.  My "new" vibrato is more and an impulse than a conscious pulling back of the finger like I was doing before, but I still find that I get tired after a while and the whole operation turns to jelly.

If this is normal, I'm okay with building up strength over time.  Like I said, I can only do it on 25% of the requisite fingers as it is!  But if I'm not supposed to be getting tired, then I should check to make sure if I'm not doing it wrong.  

I can post a video if that helps, but it will have to be tonight.

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Bob
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September 27, 2017 - 12:13 pm
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As someone who is still learning vibrato (along with everything else!) I can testify that, yes, I get sore sometimes when I practice vibrato. One of my hardest tasks when playing is to "RELAX" (I have to say it out loud to myself). Days when I feel relaxed my vibrato doesn't cause me pain. I still haven't been able to get my first finger to vibrate right though, even for a short time 🙁

The way I practiced loosening up my wrist for vibrato was while sitting in my recliner chair I place my elbow against the arm rest and try to "flap" my wrist while holding my fingers as if they were on the fingerboard of my imaginary violin. I found this to help me get a "vibration" that is more relaxed and when I pick up the violin I'm able to use the same motion to achieve a reasonable vibrato, at least for a few seconds. Keeping it going while bowing is one of my big problems.

I think you'll find it will get better as you practice, but don't push it if your having to much discomfort.

Good luck

Bob in Lone Oak, Texas

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damfino
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September 27, 2017 - 12:29 pm
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My muscles would get tired when starting out learning it, so I tried not to overdo it, do little short practices of it as everything got used to it. Part of learning it so slowly is building and training the muscles the movement 🙂 

I started out doing wrist vibrato, but my thumb would start to hurt doing it, so moved to arm vibrato, and now I think I do a combo of the two without thinking about it. I don't notice it causing me discomfort anymore.

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Jim Dunleavy
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September 28, 2017 - 3:59 am
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The short answer is yes.

Like any muscle that hasn't previously been used much, the ones you use for vibrato have to be built up. I do wrist vibrato, and used to feel it in my forearm when I first started it. Now it's much better, though I still get tired when I do a lot of vibrato practice.

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dpappas
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September 29, 2017 - 10:34 am
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Thanks, everyone.  

I feel like it's getting better every day (both the vibrato and fatigue).  I only practice vibrato (as in going through the motions) for 3 minutes a day, and then I've been trying to incorporate it into any whole or half notes in my other practicing, unless I am focusing on intonation.  So baby steps is the key for me.

On the bright side, I played without my shoulder rest for a few minutes last night and I was able to maintain my basic vibrato.  It was a little less stable, but before if I didn't use the shoulder rest nothing would move.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 29, 2017 - 2:24 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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I tried vibrating with my right hand on the violin for the heck of it. It was a super difficult task to say the least. Hand gets tired in no time.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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dpappas
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September 29, 2017 - 4:19 pm
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Thanks, that lets me know that I'm on the right track.  I want to avoid injury, I've got a lot of playing years left in me.

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dpappas
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September 30, 2017 - 11:54 am
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I went ahead and recorded videos of my attempt.  Any feedback would be appreciated. 

 

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Ferenc Simon
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September 30, 2017 - 4:11 pm
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Fiddlerman said
I tried vibrating with my right hand on the violin for the heck of it. It was a super difficult task to say the least. Hand gets tired in no time.  

@fiddlerguy 

Do you happen to have a go-pro or some similar head-mountable camera? 🙂 

I bet the people here would love to see all these different vibrato types from first person view, since all the people on youtube show them from various angles, but at the end of the day if we're aiming for a visual match of the movements.. it could be awesome to see all this from the eye-level of the player 🙂 So maybe make a short video of that? 

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Demoiselle
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October 1, 2017 - 4:54 am
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Fiddlerman said
I tried vibrating with my right hand on the violin for the heck of it. It was a super difficult task to say the least. Hand gets tired in no time.  

Very interesting. Sometimes people are like, "Wow, now you're playing the violin! Isn't that very difficult because you need incredibly good hearing?" I then explain it is difficult because you need lots of strength in your hands. Plus of course the millimeter work because the next string is always awkwardly close.

I'm happy to not need vibrato because I see the huge challenge which would cost a huge amount of time I rather spend for evolving tonally.

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dpappas
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October 2, 2017 - 10:53 am
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You may want to think about vibrato, because it is tonal evolution, yet another tool like advanced bowing that can add to expressiveness.  I know some genres use it sparingly, but vibrato is personal, it's what makes the best soloists sound unique.

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Demoiselle
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October 2, 2017 - 4:23 pm
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I'm a pre-classical gal and classical music isn't invented yet. I will do bow vibrato, already tried it and like it much better than the classical music vibrato. Bow vibrato was common in the 1600s and early 1700s. What you are preaching is common sense, something I never gave a darn for. I find it boring to follow the mainstream and prefer to do what I like best. Right now I don't do any kind of vibrato until I have gained a certain level of precision and ease. Modern vibrato has a little change of pitch, I want to hear clear, clean notes. I find modern vibrato mushy -- simply too romanticist. I generally don't like the pathos and expression of the romantic period. Plus I'm very stubborn and if you try to preach me vibrato I will be opposed to it even more. 😉

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dpappas
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October 3, 2017 - 10:10 am
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LOL, no worries.  I think it's all worth learning, but it's what you want to do that's important.

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Demoiselle
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October 4, 2017 - 4:57 am
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I don't want to generally bash the music of the romantic period. Especially Antonín Dvořák always impressed me a lot but this is not my style how I want to express myself. I will never have such a big symphony orchestra, so it's not mine at all. Generally I think classical music has enslaved people musically until jazz came (back....if you consider baroque music jazz which is possible). In traditional jazz vibrato was very-very common, but since bebop it was obsolete. Right now we kinda live in a post-modern jazz era, that's why I say "was". If a violinist just wants to play classical modern jazz (roughly late 40s through 80s), learning vibrato is just useless. It simply doesn't belong there. Same goes for the style of baroque music I prefer on violin. Which is really funny, because on trumpet I partly use vibrato and like it, but hate to play baroque music on trumpet. On violin I sometimes play jazz, but don't like it much. That's why I do it just every couple months to test out how far I've got.

There are musical styles where vibrato is not suited and if you specialize on one of those styles it's waste of time to train vibrato because it's a huge strain. Such strain isn't healthy for anybody's hands, at least it would hold me off a lot and stop progress in other areas.

Straining your hand too much can have grave health consequences. There is an issue, called focal distonia, which occurs especially among pianists, guitarists and violinists. Put simply, it is a finger going crazy because you challenged the poor little guy too much. It results in a neurological problem inside the brain where that finger is controlled. There have been musicians trying and trying hard, after that problem had started to occur, which resulted in a total paralysis  of the hand. So this kind of fanaticism can be really fatal.

If you try to learn vibrato by force it will likely fail. Most people give up before they completely mess up their brain. Those who develop paralysis are masochistic  fanatics far over average.

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Demoiselle
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October 4, 2017 - 5:01 am
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Shortly, if the finger is tired it needs to rest. Force can lead to terrible consequences. I wrote about Focal Distonia in my long comment above. It is described in the paragraph next to the last one.

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Fiddlerman
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October 5, 2017 - 3:39 pm
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Ferenc Simon said

@fiddlerguy 

Do you happen to have a go-pro or some similar head-mountable camera? 🙂 

I don't have one but Michael (my son) has spoken about it several times. 🙂

I believe it will be a future investment.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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BillyG
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October 6, 2017 - 2:13 am
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Hi - @Ferenc Simon and @Fiddlerman - you can also get away with a simple web-cam (I used a cheapo logitech c160 or something, looking down the neck, and held on with a few elastic bands) - it's a good idea to reference the movement to the fiddle itself - and maybe for vibrato, two cams, both fiddle mounted, one on top, one underneath...

I did this one a couple of years back to get a real close look at my finger presentation / approach to the lower strings...

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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